The first time I learned – really learned – what a sleep regression was, I began to wonder if it wasn’t more well-known as some part of a conspiracy to keep us young parents in the dark. After all, this little sleep had to be a form of torture, right? So surely the older generations weren’t mentioning them as a means to guarantee themselves grandkids, right? Well, after surviving not one but FOUR 8 month sleep regression, it’s not some tinfoil hat conspiracy. Y’all, it’s just that parenting is exhausting and full of sleep training for us all. Even so, let’s dispel some of the common myths that surround sleep regressions.
Myths about the elusive 8-month sleep regression
After almost 8 years in the Emergency Department, 4 kids who did not understand that sleep is amazing until after they turned one, and boatloads of research, I’ve heard pretty much every sleep myth in the book. And then some.
And, of all of the sleep regressions, the 8-month sleep regression definitely goes down in my books as one of the worst. Does that mean it always happens in month 8? Well – that’s one of the myths we’re gonna cover. So, shall we dive on into putting the slap down on sleep myths? Let’s.
Let’s slap down those myths with some serious sleep truths
While I’m going to go over – and then debunk – 7 of the most common sleep myths, this is by no means an exhaustive list. That being said, if you don’t find the answer to your sleep question, I’d love you to contact me with it. That way, I can find the answer for you (if I don’t already have it), update this post, and invite you into my Sleep Training Support Group on Facebook.
But first, let’s make sure I didn’t already cover your question. Ready?
Myth #1: You’re being dramatic – sleep regressions aren’t real!
I’ve had friends, family, and random people on the street accuse me of being dramatic. Surely, there was no way that my children got as little sleep as I claimed they did!
Fact: Sleep regressions are real – and they suck pretty bad… But you can survive sleep regressions.
In a monumental research study published in 2015, scientists determined that YES! sleep disruption was temporarily linked to the onset of crawling. Subsequent studies seem to only reinforce that finding.
Translation: sleep regressions are real – and science is figuring it out.
Myth #2: If you’d just sleep train your baby already to this exact 8 month old sleep schedule, you wouldn’t be dealing with a sleep regression.
I’ve had people assure me that if we’d just sleep train our children, they’d sleep better – full stop. Because, obviously, sleep training and/or a sleep schedule is a one-time fix-all solution to everything.
Fact: sleep training doesn’t prevent a sleep regression.
Remember that study? I’m sure some of those kids had been sleep trained prior to the study. Sleep training helps a child learn to sleep, sure. But when they hit that new milestone, the things they’ve previously learned get temporarily forgotten. That’s normal. That’s how it works so that their little bodies can keep figuring out this new locomotion thing.
So no, sleep training at 6 months won’t prevent a sleep regression at 7 or 8 months. What it will do, however, is give you some tools to re-sleep train. It will help you ease your baby back to sleep as soon as they chill out a little bit.
And as far as that “perfect” 8-month-old sleep schedule? Those are more of what you call a guideline than an actual rule.
Even so, if you’d like a peek at what worked for us, here’s our sleep schedule.
Myth #3: If you’d co-sleep the right way, then you can fix that sleep regression.
I’ve had a few friends assure me that if I co-sleep the right way, then I wouldn’t have to deal with any sleep regressions. While I’m glad that they missed any and all sleep regressions, it’s not because they didn’t happen.
In fact, I remember one friend who told me she was sure they did happen – but she’d gotten so used to sleeping with a wiggly baby that she couldn’t say for sure when a sleep regression happened. Because she slept right through it.
Fact: you can’t fix a sleep regression by co-sleeping – and what does “the right way” even mean??
Let’s repeat the story above, because it’s important. I have a friend who told me that, because she co-slept, she couldn’t distinguish a sleep regression from a regular night. Because she slept through it all.
Oh, and a quick note – what does co-sleeping “the right way” even mean? As long as your family is safe, everyone gets the sleep they need, and your doctor’s on board, my sleeping habits are none of your business. And yours are none of my business. Rested is best, y’all.
Myth #4: You must have done something to trigger that sleep problem so your 8 month old isn’t sleeping.
I’ve been accused of eating the wrong foods, keeping baby up too late, and putting my kids to bed too early. Obviously – it must be my fault.
Fact: It’s not your fault.
Only, it’s not my fault. And it’s definitely not your fault, either. Sleep regressions are triggered when your baby hits a developmental milestone. Those milestones are a natural progression – they’re part of growing up. They’re nobody’s fault. So remind yourself of that, and kiss the mom guilt goodbye.
Myth #5: Just use this 8 month old schedule to know when the next regression will happen – and prevent it!
Anyone who says they’ve got the exact, perfect schedule to when a sleep regression will happen is probably trying to sell you some snake oil.
Fact: That schedule is a guideline – not a Holy Grail.
The fact is, milestones develop and occur at different paces for each child.
- Sitting up on their own? Generally at 6 months. My kids were so chunky as babies that it was closer to 7 months.
- Crawling can be anywhere from 6 months to 15 months or not at all.
- Walking can be anywhere from 9 months on. My kids were 12-13 months before they walked. And their 11-month-old sleep regression was just as bad (if not WORSE!) as this one.
Those milestones timelines are guidelines. They’re not hard-and-fast rules.
Want some stories from other parents who’ve also struggled with sleep training? Here are 7 Ways Parents Like You Survive A Sleep Regression
Myth #6: Your baby will hit a regression with every milestone.
Moms and dads beware: any time your child learns something new, they’re going to have a sleep regression and you will rue the day you conceived that child!
Um, no. That’s not how it works.
Fact: Every baby is different – and you won’t know what’s going to happen until it does.
I think one of my kids may have missed one of the typical sleep regressions. Maybe. My kids happened to hit most of them – and I’m still recovering from 7 years of sleep deprivation, so I don’t remember which ones we skipped.
Myth #7: Your baby will never sleep again.
When a sleep regression hits and suddenly baby is up every 20 minutes (or so), it feels like sleep is officially off the schedule. Forever.
Fact: Regressions don’t last forever – maybe a couple of weeks. But you can shorten them with the right toolset.
Thankfully, they don’t last forever. They typically last anywhere from a few nights to a few weeks. Most sleep gurus agree that if it’s lasting longer than a month, it’s time to consult your doctor. Because it could be something else by then!
With our kids, sleep regressions usually lasted up to a week. And by our fourth kid, we’ve learned a whole lot of tricks, tips, and hacks to help those sleep regressions get cut down to as little as 1-2 nights.
What’s our secret?
Well, I’d love to give it to you via this free 30-day sleep training challenge.